Absolutely Abby

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Taking Control of Your Career Print
Written by Abby Kohut   
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 13:42

When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Although many friends and family members had been asking me that question for the past 21 years, it was easy to laugh it off...until graduation day, when it wasn't as funny anymore.

As a young girl, I daydreamed of becoming a stewardess. I would fly high up in the sky and see the world. That dream was shattered when at age 14, I learned of the height restrictions. I wasn't 5'4" nor did my genes suggest that I would ever be.

At age 15, I decided to become a pilot. There were no height restrictions for that job and at that age, I had perfect eyesight. I even entered a drawing contest where the prize was free flying lessons! That dream changed when I experienced turbulence for the first time during a violent thunderstorm. I then decided to choose a career where I could plant my feet firmly and safely on the ground.

When I entered college, I was required to choose a major. I had received straight A's in a variety of high school math classes and scored well on the Math SAT. I decided to be a math major and to eventually become a math teacher like my sister-in-law. When I sat through my first advanced Calculus class, I realized that I was not only lousy at choosing careers but my ability to choose the right major was abysmal as well.

During the first semester of my freshman year, I continued to struggle with choosing a major. I contemplated Philosophy, Computer Science, French, and even Physics. During my Sunday evening call with my parents, they would eagerly await hearing the decision about my major. I did not disappoint them as I had a new one to offer each week. It became comical to them after a while, but not to me.

And then, it happened! I fell in love with my second semester Psychology 101 class due to an inspiring teacher named Professor McAdam. I continued to take advanced Psychology classes as the years progressed and learned all about the human race. I became a Psychology Teaching Assistant, graduated with Psychology Honors and even added a Personnel Management Certificate to my repertoire.

When I graduated, I did what many psychology majors who are not ready for grad school do. I scrambled around looking for a job. I could wait tables, deliver pizza, become an administrative assistant, or find a research job at a hospital. When an opportunity presented itself, I became a Purchasing Agent for a computer company.

By pure luck, I absolutely adored my job. I purchased computer parts, negotiated great deals, and developed relationships with vendors from all across the U.S. It all came crashing down when I received my first pink slip due to no fault of my own. The company was shutting its doors and was unable to keep me employed. I did what any scared 21-year-old without a focus and without a job would do...I signed up for grad school...not for a Masters in Psychology but for a Masters in Computer Science.

By the time I had completed 75% of my Master's degree, I was facing the job market again. It was then that I had realized that I had invested time, energy and lots of money aiming towards a computer related career than I had no interest in. What I loved was Psychology, which later turned into a fulfilling career in Human Resources. Had I pursued a Masters in Psychology back then, it would have been a much better decision.

Recently, I learned about Phoenix Career Services* – a set of new tools and services provided by University of Phoenix to current and prospective students, which I wish I had at my disposal when I was making my college decisions. At http://www.phoenix.edu/career-services/career-development-tools, they offer a free Career Interest Profiler tool that will help you identify your professional interests and the related careers to better focus your career search. When I tested the tool, Human Resources was among the preferred careers it offered me, which was of course no surprise.

Phoenix Career Services also provides a Job Market Research Tool at https://www.phoenix.edu/career-services/market-research. This free tool provides access to current and recent job and labor market information. The tool helps students make smart choices about their career path by learning about the current hiring demand in their metro area, typical salary ranges and in-demand employers. During my career, I have had the opportunity to move to other locations in the U.S., and this tool would have been helpful when making those decisions.

Once students enroll, University of Phoenix's My Career Plan provides a personalized, detailed plan for their academic journey. The tool helps students get more involved with and understand how their coursework can better prepare them for the challenge of pursuing their desired career. Just as important, it provides them with insight into what the hiring needs are from the leading employers.

All of these Phoenix Career Services tools were developed with input from top employers in an effort to find competitive candidates for jobs that remain unfilled. There are currently more than three million jobs available in the U.S., but despite the number of unemployed people, recruiters are finding it difficult to fill these jobs. University of Phoenix designed Phoenix Career Services to help close the current skills gap by helping prospective and current students understand where their interests lie, which jobs are available and where, and what education is needed to gain the skills today's employers demand.

I had a wonderful four years in college academically, professionally and personally. I had outstanding professors who helped me fall in love with human nature and I developed relationships that will last a lifetime. What I didn’t have was a career focus until five years out of college.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
As a job seeker, you need to take control of your career. You need to understand where your interests lie, what jobs are in demand, and what education is needed to gain the skills today’s employers demand. Phoenix Career Services will help you make the connection between education and your best-fit career. I encourage everyone to go to http://www.phoenix.edu/careerservices to begin taking control of their career today.

*This blog post is part of a paid relationship between me and University of Phoenix. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!